in

Kenyans have until Tuesday to give views on contentious election laws

Kenyans have until Tuesday midday to present their views on the contentious election laws before a Senate committee retreats to compile its report for the House.

The legal affairs committee chaired by Busia Senator Amos Wako has invited interested members of the public and organisations to critique the Election Law (Amendment) Bill that is now the subject of intense debate.

The Bill passed last week provides for use of a manual backup in identification of voters and transmission of election results, in the event the electronic system fails.

The representations may be made orally or by submission of written memoranda addressed to the Clerk of the Senate, according to an advertisement in the local dailies.

The committee is expected to table its report on January 5, after its deadline was extended by a day following the declaration that January 2, will be a national holiday to compensate for the New Year that falls on a Sunday.

Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro Ethuro in a special Kenya Gazette notice dated December 30 has recalled the members for a special sitting on Thursday to discuss the report that is expected heighten political temperatures in the House.

On Thursday, the committee met Information Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission (IEBC) Executive officer Ezra Chiloba and Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) Director-Human Capital and Administration Juma Kandie.

ENHANCE ELECTORAL PROCESS

Mr Chiloba admitted that the National Assembly’s Justice, Legal and Constitutional Affairs chaired by Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi) did not consider vital recommendations they submitted to enhance the electoral process.

Mr Chiloba admitted that the National Assembly’s Justice, Legal and Constitutional Affairs chaired by Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi) did not consider vital recommendations they submitted to enhance the electoral process.

Senate Majority Leader, Prof Kithure Kindiki expressed optimism that a way out of the matter, will be found to help the country move forward.

‘It does not have to be a unanimous way but, the fact that we have given room for Kenyans of different persuasions to express themselves on this matter is an important benefit to our democracy,” Prof Kindiki said.

Morning sittings will begin at 10am whereas the afternoon session will start at 2.30pm to either adopt or reject the committee report.

Chances are high that the matter might be referred to a mediation committee after it emerged that a number of amendments in the bill were not as a result of a consultative process.

Senators Mutula Kilonzo (Makueni) Hassan Omar (Mombasa) and Judith Sijeny (Nominated) argued that a general election is an emotive issue that should not be subjected to political machinations.

They said there is need to instil public confidence in the process to avert a situation where losers feel they were short-changed.

Ms Sijeny said seeking the views of the public on a national issue is a constitutional right that cannot be ignored, as it happened in the National Assembly.

“It is obvious the bill was rushed. It’s premature. It didn’t follow the right stages,” Ms Sijeny said.

END STALEMATE

Mr Kilonzo Jr questioned the motive behind the MPs decision to introduce use of a complementary system for voter identification and transmission of results, without consulting the IEBC.

The opposition has also suspended protests planned for January 4, against the passage of the election laws pending the outcome of the Senate proceedings.

The Senate committee has already met government officials and representatives of religious organisations in a bid to end the stalemate.

On Thursday, the committee met Information Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission (IEBC) Executive officer Ezra Chiloba and Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) Director-Human Capital and Administration Juma Kandie.

He cited failure by the committee to include facial features and fingerprints as part of the definition of biometrics to aid in identification of voters, as one of the many recommendations the MPs ignored.

Mr Chiloba however, he appealed to political leaders and other partners to manage emerging electoral concerns to enhance trust instead of stoking public mistrust.

“I don’t think the problem is as big as it has been made to appear… We have the capacity as IEBC to deliver a credible poll,” Mr Chiloba said.

Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro allowed room for public participation to build consensus following concerns that MPs in the National Assembly, hurriedly passed the bill.

Interior Cabinet Secretary outlaws 89 criminal gangs

Teachers union chiefs praise Matiang’i for restoring exams’ credibility